Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  David Foster Wallace  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Young Adult; Children;

Born: 1962 in Ithaca, New York

Died: 2008 in Claremont, California

-- David Foster Wallace on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Wallace was raised in Champaign-Urbana.

Biographical and Professional Information

David Foster Wallace was born in Ithaca, New York, in 1962 and raised in Illinois, where he was a regionally ranked junior tennis player. He received bachelor of arts degrees in philosophy and English from Amherst College and wrote what would become his first novel, ''The Broom of the System'', as his senior English thesis. He received a masters of fine arts from University of Arizona in 1987 and briefly pursued graduate work in philosophy at Harvard University. Wallace published short fiction in ''Might, GQ, Playboy, The Paris Review, Harper's Magazine, Mid-American Review, Conjunctions, Esquire, Open City, Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, The New Yorker,'' and ''Science''. In 1997, Wallace received the Aga Khan Prize for Fiction, awarded by editors of ''The Paris Review'' for one of the stories in ''Brief Interviews''—"Brief Interviews with Hideous Men #6"—which had appeared in the magazine.His second novel, ''Infinite Jest'', was published in 1996. Wallace taught creative writing at Emerson College, Illinois State University, and Pomona College, where he was the first Roy E. Disney Professor of Creative Writing. He published the story collections ''Girl with Curious Hair'', ''Brief Interviews with Hideous Men'', ''Oblivion'', the essay collections ''A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again'', and ''Consider the Lobster''. He was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Award, and a Whiting Writers' Award, and was appointed to the Usage Panel for The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. He died in 2008. His last novel, ''The Pale King'', was published in 2011.

Published Works

  • The Broom of the System, Viking, 1987
  • Girl With the Curious Hair, W.W. Norton, 1989
  • Infinite Jest, Little Brown, 1996
  • A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments, Back Bay Books, 1998
  • Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, Back Bay Books, 2000
  • Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity, Norton, 2003
  • Oblivion: Stories, Back Bay Books, 2005
  • Consider the Lobster and Other Essays, Back Bay Books, 2005
  • This is Water, Little Brown, 2009
  • The Pale King, Back Bay Books, 2011
  • Both Flesh and Not: Essays, Back Bay Books, 2012

Selected Titles At Your Library

The broom of the system /
ISBN: 0143116932. OCLC Number:

Penguin Books,. New York :. 2010.

"When her great-grandmother goes missing along with twenty-five other inmates of the Shaker Heights, Ohio, Nursing Home, Lenore's life is thrown into chaos. Featuring an insanely jealous boss and a cockatiel that quotes Auden and the King James Bible, Lenore's quest to find her great-grandmother against daunting odds cleverly moves into an exploration of the paradoxes of language, storytelling, and reality."--Inside blurb.

Girl with curious hair /
ISBN: 0349111022. OCLC Number:

Abacus,. London :. 1997, ©1989.

David Foster Wallace is one of the most prodigiously talented young writers in America today and Girl With Curious Hair is replete with his remarkable and unsettling re-imaginations of reality. From an eerily 'real', almost holographic evocation of Lyndon B. Johnson, to over-televised game-show hosts and late-night comedians, to the title story, where terminal punk nihilism meets Young Republicanism, Wallace renders the incredible comprehensible, the bizarre normal, the absurd hilarious, the familiar strange.

Infinite jest :
ISBN: 0316920045. OCLC Number:

Little, Brown and Company,. Boston :. ©1996.

A spoof on our culture featuring a drug-and-alcohol rehabilitation house near Boston. The center becomes a hotbed of revolutionary activity by Quebec separatists in revolt against the Organization of North American Nations which now rules the continent.

A supposedly fun thing I'll never do again :
ISBN: 0316925284. OCLC Number:

. .

A collection of keen observations, witty analyses, and essays on a wide range of subjects exposes the fault lines in today's society.

Brief interviews with hideous men /
ISBN: 0316925195. OCLC Number:

Little, Brown,. Boston :. ©1999.

A collection of 23 stories, several of which deal with misunderstandings between men and women. In one, a man assumes that women find his mutilated arm sexy, in another a wife is inhibited in her lovemaking by fear that her husband will think she is a slut.

Everything and more :
ISBN: 0393339289. OCLC Number:

W.W. Norton,. New York :. 2010.

Wallace brings his talents to the history of one of math's most enduring puzzles: the seemingly paradoxical nature of infinity.

Oblivion :
ISBN: 0316010766. OCLC Number:

. .

Presents a collection of eight short fiction stories by American author David Foster Wallace.

Consider the lobster and other essays /
ISBN: 0316013323. OCLC Number:

. .

For this collection, Wallace immerses himself in the three-ring circus that is the presidential race in order to document one of the most vicious campaigns in recent history. Later he strolls from booth to booth at a lobster festival in Maine and risks life and limb to get to the bottom of the lobster question. Then he wheedles his way into an L.A. radio studio, armed with tubs of chicken, to get the behind-the-scenes view of a conservative talk show featuring a host with an unnatural penchant for clothing that looks good only on the radio. Do lobsters feel pain? Did Franz Kafka have a sick sense of humor? What is John Updike's deal anyway? And who won the Adult Video News' Female Performer of the Year Award the same year Gwyneth Paltrow won her Oscar? Wallace answers these questions and more.--From publisher description.

This is water :
ISBN: 0316068225. OCLC Number:

Little, Brown,. New York :. 2009.

"Only once did David Foster Wallace give a public talk on his views on life, during a commencement address given in 2005 at Kenyon College. The speech is reprinted for the first time in book form in THIS IS WATER. How does one keep from going through their comfortable, prosperous adult life unconsciously? How do we get ourselves out of the foreground of our thoughts and achieve compassion? The speech captures Wallace's electric intellect as well as his grace in attention to others."--

The pale king :
ISBN: 0316074225. OCLC Number:

Little, Brown and Co.,. New York :. 2011.

The character David Foster Wallace is introduced to the banal world of the IRS Regional Examination Center in Peoria, Illinois, and the host of strange people who work there, in a novel that was unfinished at the time of the author's death.

Both flesh and not :
ISBN: 0316182389. OCLC Number:

. .

A compilation of fifteen of Wallace's seminal essays, all published in book form for the first time.


  • Inclusion of "Good Old Neon" in Prize Stories 2002